Special Report

States Getting the Most and Least Sleep

Detailed Findings

Insufficient sleep is tied to a number of factors related to lifestyle and circumstance. A 2013 poll conducted by advocacy group the National Sleep Foundation found that people who exercise vigorously are more likely to get enough quality sleep. Meanwhile, those who lead largely sedentary lifestyles are at an increased risk of not getting enough sleep.

In keeping with the NSF’s findings, states getting the most sleep are typically home to relatively active populations, in contrast to the states where large shares of the population are not sleeping enough. Nationwide, 23.0% of adults get no exercise beyond getting up and going to work. With the exception of Hawaii, each of the 10 states getting the least sleep are home to a larger than typical share of adults who lead sedentary lifestyles.

In comparison, sedentary lifestyles are more common than they are nationwide in only three of the 10 states where the smallest shares of adults are sleep deprived.

In addition to a number of disorders, such as restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea, which can prevent restful sleep, financial stress and frequent mental distress can get in the way of a full night’s sleep.

Indeed, psychological stress is more common in the states in which the smallest shares of adults are getting enough sleep, as is the prevalence of serious financial hardship. The average American adult experiences 3.8 mentally unhealthy days a month. In eight of the 10 states getting the least sleep, the average number of mentally unhealthy days is higher than the national average. Additionally, seven of those same states have a higher poverty rate than the 14.0% U.S. poverty rate.

Meanwhile, none of the 10 states getting the most sleep have a higher than average number of mentally unhealthy days per month and only one has a higher poverty rate than the country as a whole.

According to the CDC, insufficient sleep is tied to both obesity and diabetes — and each of these conditions tends to be far more common in the states getting the least sleep.


To determine the states where residents report getting the most and least sleep, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the share of adults 18 and older in every state who do not get sufficient sleep (< 8 hours a night ages 18-21, < 7 hours a night ages 22+). These figures were obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2016 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Diabetes and obesity rates are also from the CDC. Average number of mentally unhealthy days per month and the share of adults with sedentary lifestyles are from County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute joint program. Poverty rates are for 2016 and are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. The number of fatal roadway deaths per 100,000 residents comes from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

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